I went to see No Exit and Wild Abandon on opening night. Like Alain, I really hated Wild Abandon. Unlike him, though, I’m not very good at being diplomatic about things I don’t like. I used to be great at diplomacy – I think my regression has something to do with being on the verge of graduating and not looking to further my education at this time in the way of graduate studies.

When I handed in my thesis idea for my term paper in this course, Dr. J asked me if there had to be a winner and a loser in my paper. Did John Dryden’s All for Love really have to be inferior to Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra? Can’t they both be important? I thought about that question, and I could see the advantages in affording the plays equal significance: but I couldn’t do it. Well, I could, but I didn’t want to. I’m really tired of hating things and looking for reasons why they are important. Maybe this makes me sound petty and childish, but that’s alright: I’m about to move to the other side of the continent. Anyway, so perhaps at the cost of my grade on that paper, John Dryden was the loser. In terms of the plays, I feel like enough people liked Wild Abandon for me to be able to say I hated it. Because I really did hate it. Steve was a spineless, sniffling, self-pitying wreck, who couldn’t stand the sight of his own reflection and couldn’t tolerate the sentience of his egotistical, static, limited human existence. I am really tired of having to be subject to people publically air these kinds of anxieties through music or writing or performance or just in conversation. Steve reminded me of the kind of people who always try to talk about Kirkegaard to me at parties. Hello, I am trying to get drunk here.

I don’t think it’s wrong to refuse to find worth in some grand production that dwells on human weakness. We’re all going to die, we all want our lives to mean something, we all want to find meaning in things that happen, we all sometimes feel like things aren’t going well or that we don’t understand what’s going on in our environment. I’m sorry, but so what? Deal with it; and if you have to deal with it through your art, at least be poetic or interesting about it if your art is meant to entertain or engage the public. I think that existentialist themes can work really well in fiction. Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Camus are just a few examples of what can be done with those issues when they are in the hands of a great artist. They all took philosophical themes and raised them to a whole new level in their art. Wild Abandon felt like a bad Radiohead song that wouldn’t end, or a teenaged diary entry that somehow found its way into my line of vision. The actor who played Steve was good, as far as I could tell, but I am pretty ignorant when it comes to most things technical when it comes to theatre or film. I want to be entertained by a plot or a story; if I said I liked Wild Abandon just because of the actor it would be like saying that I liked the movie Pi because it had great camera work. I don’t care about camera work, I want a plot or message that doesn’t make me want to throw up straight into the air.

I believe some people in this course are also in Littlejohn’s existentialism class this year. It may not seem like it, but I am also in that class. I really like Dr. Littlejohn, and I have really liked some of the literature that we have read in that class. But I cannot stand sitting through the weekly sessions. People arguing with Littlejohn about how religion is meaningless or worthless and going on about how they only have religious experiences when they climb to the tops of hills. They are having a hard time applying religious theory to their hill climbing escapades or whatever the hell the topic is that week. People struggling to come to terms with different theories and being unable to understand them just because they aren’t relevant to THEIR OWN lives? How egotistical is that? I struggle to comprehend a lot of Jaques Derrida’s theories, but I am certainly not going to waste a room full of people’s time by arguing with Dr. Moore or some other literary theory prof about how the ideas are worthless because I’m having trouble finding parallels to them in my own life. No one needs to agree with me, but I feel like a topic like existentialism attracts that sort of annoying self-centred harping. Each individual student vocalizing their newfound struggle with the futility of their lives, and meanwhile I am trying to hang myself at the back of the room. I really regret signing up for this course, and I hate that because I know that I would enjoy it if I could get around all of the pretention.

On to No Exit. I don’t care for this play. I don’t care for Sartre in general. Sure, he’s really important. However, this play was a heck of a lot better than Wild Abandon; primarily because it wasn’t a direct angst-driven display of self-pity. It was at least a little poetic, a little more literary, or something. Despite not being very interested in the subject matter of the play, I had a lot of fun watching it for two reasons (apart from my appreciation for the subject matter being expressed a little more subtley). First, I had never seen this play on stage, but had heard of it many times. It was a great opportunity to learn what all the fuss is about, and also I really like that venue; it feels like some sort of underground theatre scene. For five bucks I can go to a highschool theatre and see some really great actors put on some plays? That is super fun, even if I don’t like the plays; I’d even support stuff like Wild Abandon regularly if things like that were going on more often, just for the sake of having a little diversity uptown in terms of what’s going on. Going to Elwoods gets a little boring after awhile. The second reason that No Exit was fun to watch was the cast. Dr. Bell and Dr. Jones were fantastic. Bell was really animated and her character was easy to loathe. This was only the second play I’ve seen her in (the other being Macbeth), and I have to say that she is a real dynamo on the stage. She really BECOMES whatever character she plays. Really great. Also, we were sitting in the second row of the theatre so we had a great view of the spitting scene, and I have to mention that she can spit really far. Impressive all around! Jones was perfect in her role as well. Her dynamic with the other characters was convincingly manipulative; she was essentially the main force behind the growing tension between the three of them. On a side note, I was wondering why Moore didn’t come out for the curtain call. I wondered that last year as well, after his production of Waiting for Godot. Is this typical, or does he just prefer to hide out backstage?

This is a pretty long blog entry; I hope I didn’t offend anyone with my criticism. Marriage has aged me and left me bitter. If anyone wants to take me to task for anything I’ve said you are more than welcome. I will likely crumble like a house of cards.

Hi Guys!  So, I got married and I moved to a farm and I don’t have the internet. Over the next week I’ll be uploading posts about plays that you’ve all already talked about.  Tonight I am going to write a scathing review of Wild Abandon and a middle-of-the-road review of No Exit because I have time on the computer since my dad and my husband are watching Ben Hur.  Basically I have about twelve hours plus an intermission to catch up on the internet and do a little research for some papers.

 

FAQ:

 

Q: Why should I read your blog entries when we are already finished talking about those plays?

A: Ummmm. Don’t you know who I am?

 

Q: Isn’t it 2007? Can’t you get the internet wherever this farm of yours is?

A: Mind your own business.

 

I would love to talk about how much I have missed writing in my blog, but I HAVE ALREADY LOST MY SUNGLASSES AND I JUST BOUGHT THEM. THIS IS BULLSHIT!

 

xox,

rachel

This post is getting in just under the wire this week; I am not sure if that will be a trend for the semester. It took me a while to read this play. Things that I have been doing instead of reading this play in a timely fashion:

1) I can’t stop knitting. I am making pillow cases and fingerless mitts. I am getting married in March, and his family is from Texas. I am making scarves for everyone who is making the trip up. My hands are turning into gnarled claws. I love crafts.

2) I can’t stop watching the West Wing. We have been watching it to an embarrassing extent since Christmas. We are on season 5.

3) I can’t stop looking at my thesis. Not working on it, just staring at it with a mild sense of terror.

Now you know everything.

“The Rover” offers interesting insight into the effects of a patriarchal society on love and the construct of marriage. Unlike “The Country Wife,” this play is far from a bedroom farce. As long as society keeps its rotten and confining foundations, Behn shows us that love and marriage will forever be tainted and controlled by harmful societal variables. I’ve read this play before; it was required reading for Women’s Writing I, was it not? We at least talked about it; I’ve been poking around on the internet, trying to find reference to something that I am about 89% sure a critic wrote about this play at some point. I believe he compared the play to a woman sitting on a theatre stage and giving birth in front of an audience. Dr. Jones read the quote to us and it comes to mind whenever I think of Behn. I wish I could find the quote or a document that referenced it, so that I would know for sure that I didn’t dream up the whole thing. I found a couple sites that had that kind of feel, but I didn’t spend too much time on them. I pretty much hate reading anything on the internet. Why do some websites have very tiny fonts? It’s like hello everything on this website is a secret and that is whyeverything is typed tiny.

I am going to go ahead and post this, and perhaps make another post this evening about Behn. I need to have the Congreve play read for tomorrow for group stuff, and I want some time to mull it over. Looking forward to tomorrow’s presentation, as I remain unsure about what is going on.

2 funnies out of 5

January 23, 2007

I had just finished writing a series of response questions on “King Lear” when I decided it was time to focus my love on this Wycherley chap. When my brain is wrapped up in other things I find it hard to get into fresh readings. Since drama is not a particularly strong area for me, I thought it would be a good idea to cheat read some things about this play before I read the play itself. I mis-spelled “Wycherley” in Google a few times. I put a record on. I said “Wycherley” out loud in my best Oliver Twist accent. I jumped up and down on my bed, waving my arms around like a symphony conductor. I looked at Wikipedia. I started reading about how hilarious this play was going to be. I got ready to laugh and laugh.

It took me about 15 minutes to realize that I did not think that this was a funny play. I usually am willing to call something funny for school’s sake even when it doesn’t make me laugh, but in reading this play through the unforgiving lens of my constructed battle conditions, something was made abundantly clear to me: either William Wycherley is funny, or I am. And I just can’t believe that I am not a really, really funny person.

Rachel: 1
Bill: 0

Although I am clearly much funnier than William Wycherley, he may be a tad bit more clever than I can truthfully claim to be. This may come as a shock to you, dear reader, but it is true. Even though he couldn’t force a snicker out of me, the man could craft a smutty pun. The guy had an obscenely filthy mind. If he wasn’t so clever about it, I may have won another point over him by calling him a one-trick-pony with dazzling confidence. However, the almost dizzying punny dialogue and the sheer volume of sexual content in this play is, I will wearily admit, entertaining. Everything in this play is sexualized. The men are extremely sexually posessive and hypermasculine. Women are identified by a primal, naive sexuality. When Sir Jasper comments on conventional womanly traits (sweetness, softness, gentleness, nobility), he is interupted by Horner’s offensive discussion on the similarities between spaniels and women, and the manner in which the former are the superior species. Although moments such as this in the text aren’t the most flattering, they nonetheless serve as a clear subversion of societal convention. Dr. Jones asked us to pay attention to the china scene; this scene was interesting as it explicitly identified the way that Wycherley is sexualizing the upper class as well as the middle class. Even something as commonplace and idle in society as china is transformed by Horner’s double entendre.

I looked at some commentaries on the critical material that was produced on this play. There seemed to be a lot of bellyaching over Horner not ending up castrated or something. My general response to this play was positive. I believe the play would be funny on stage; I guess that is the whole point of theatre. Correct me if I’m wrong. If I go to the theatre I am hoping to be entertained; I don’t need poetic justice at the end of the story. Horner doesn’t need to lose his lusty scheming, and I don’t need to be taught a moral lesson. The dialogue is biting, enticing, and seems to come at a rapid pace. This play was sassy and ridiculous. For being saucy, I will award him one point.

Rachel: 1
Bill: 1

Since the score is tied, we will now have a very exciting tie-breaking round. I have placed a number of simple competitions in a hat and i will close my eyes and draw one. The final issue is….

Having a spellable last name
Rachel: 2
Bill: 1

In conclusion, this is not a very funny play, but I am a super funny person.

Final Tally:

Rachel: 2
Bill: 1

January 21, 2007

Hi everybody. Talk to you later.